The warm weather in Cyprus is ideal for potty training. During the warm spring sun in April and May, followed by the Mediterranean summer sun in June, July and August, continued by the pleasant autumn temperature in September and October – there aren’t that many obstacles in the way of potty training as children wear fewer clothes, which make accidents while potty training easy to deal with.
If your child is around 1 1⁄2 years old it may be time to begin potty training. Most toddlers show signs of readiness for using the toilet between 18 months and 3 years old. Your child is then becoming more aware of its body and is also in the developmental stage of wanting to imitate others. Signs of beginning potty training may be: they may tell you that they want their dirty nappies changed; they want to go to the toilet and want to wear regular underwear. As parents we can help by paying attention to for how long the nappy remains dry, and when it remains dry for approximately 2 hours it is time to start. You may at this stage introduce the potty to your child and explain what it is for. Show your child that you as parents go to the lavatory and how to flush the toilet. If your child doesn’t show an interest then simply postpone it for a little while and then try again. Potty training is something one does together with one’s child, something that should be exciting and fun, and as parents we need to make the process playful and encouraging.
Initially one doesn’t need to be consistent. When wearing a nappy, children often can’t feel that they are wet. You may therefore begin by removing the nappy at home so the child can feel that they have wet themselves and become aware of “Oops! Something happened now!” At this stage you may want to keep a nappy on your child when going out.
To become free of nappies is a combination of potty training and readiness, namely ‘bladder readiness’ and regular bowel movements. Some begin potty training when the child can sit steadily on either the potty or the lavatory. An important factor at this point is communication between parents and child, and how you decide in a playful manner to support, help and encourage your child to become dry.
Children learn with ease, and they learn a lot throughout their toddler years. Just as we support and assist the child when learning how to walk, how to use a spoon or putting their shoes on, we need to give the same support when potty training. When you decide to remove the nappy, you will become aware of your child’s body signals, how your child looks, or what they tend to do before doing a number 1 or 2! It may be different facial expressions, or suddenly stopping all movements and coming to a complete stand still. Sometimes children are not able to tell us they need the potty, however, they are often able to control their bladder for short periods. Recognizing your child’s body signals is therefore of great help as it may give you the time needed to help removing clothes and sit them down on the potty. At approximately 2 to 3 years old children are usually able to carry out the entire procedure themselves.
If a child is still not dry by 2 1⁄2 years old it is recommended that one becomes more adamant with the potty training. To continue to use nappies as the child’s toilet as the child is getting older creates a bad habit that can become difficult to get rid of. There is no need to nag, but be more adamant and consistent with your child sitting on the potty regularly. You may say to the child “I just want you try – if nothing happens, that’s ok – but sometimes it can take a little while before something happens so let’s just sit down for a while”
If your child is prone to develop urine infections, you may want to spend some extra time on potty training. Doctors say that when a child wears a nappy they urinate in small ‘squirts or splashes’, and urine may therefore be left in the child’s bladder which can cause urine infections. When sitting on a potty or toilet the child will empty their bladder completely.
Research shows that regardless of how early we begin potty training, children are not completely dry until earliest 2 to 3 years old. The child is then able to recognize when it is time to go to the toilet and manages to go by themselves. However, for some time one has to expect that accidents will happen. Moreover, it may happen that the child loses interest, or cannot be bothered wasting their energy with going to the toilet as it is much more fun learning how to swing or climb! Full commitment and involvement are required from both parents and others that care for the child.
Do children learn to control the bladder or bowel movement first? Children have less bowel movement and therefore do not need to go for a number 2 as often as a number 1. It is therefore often easier for parents to spot and work out when their child needs to go for a number 2. It has thereby been suggested that children usually learn to control their bowel movement first.
If your child attends a nursery setting it is important that you inform the practitioners that you have started potty training your child – how you go about the training at home; when your child usually seems to need the toilet; if your child uses a potty or the toilet, and; if for instance your son sits or stands when urinating . In this way the staff is able to support your child at their best.
24 give-up-the-nappy tips
1. My potty! Give your child their own potty in the bathroom. This may make the child curious and can be a good start to potty training.
2. Let your child sometimes accompany you to the toilet – perhaps they would like to do the same as you!
3. Begin with removing the nappy while you are at home in the daytime – little accidents will then not become dramatic and you will always have a change of clothes handy. When it works without a nappy during the day it is usually ok at night too.
4. Some parents change to material nappies, instead of the very absorbent ones, during the training period as the child then can feel that have wet themselves.
5. Let the child test and try the potty. By simply sitting on the potty something might happen! Give your child a book or a toy they like while sitting on the potty.
6. Remember that potty training should be fun and exciting. You may for example read a book about potty training and listen to the sound the ‘wee-wee’ makes when hitting the potty.
7. Sit your child on the potty after they have had a sleep and after meals – often something happens!
8. A small child needs mum and/or dad’s company and assistance when sitting on the potty – don’t leave your child alone.
9. Make sure your child goes to the potty before you go out. If nothing happens – that’s ok.
10. Get your child used to going to the lavatory in other places apart from home and remember to always bring a change of clothes when you are out.
11. When you change your child’s nappy – ask your child if s/he has done a number 1 or 2 to encourage awareness that something has happened.
12. Interpret your child - perhaps s/he stops moving when s/he needs to go to the lavatory, or twists, or makes a particular sound.
13. Is there a pattern? Does your child’s bowel move at a particular time of the day? In that case, place your child on the potty at that time.
14. Nothing happened – that’s ok. Be positive and praise your child that s/he tried. And if something does happen, praise them with for instance “Look, you made a wee- wee – great!”
15. Do not show any displeasure when your child has used the potty – always associate the potty with something positive.
16. Some children prefer to wear a nappy when doing a number 2, but are fully capable of doing number 1’s on the potty. Don’t make a big deal about this.
17. When you know your child is able to control their bowel movement and needs a little extra support you may want to try negotiating. Agree on a small award if number 2’s end up in the potty rather than in the nappy.
18. To become free from nappies does not take long if the child is ready. If the process of potty training becomes too long – perhaps the child is not ready yet.
19. Remember that the child’s clothes should be easy to remove – a button in ones jeans can be very hard to undo if you are in a hurry.
20. Accidents happen. Remain easy-going and positive when accidents happen so the child does not feel that it is not allowed to do number 1’s and 2’s anymore.
21. Be patient. Even if the child seems dry, accidents will happen in certain situations. They may simply forget while busy at play.
22. Take it easy; do not compare your child with other children.
23. Some parents encourage their children by for example buying underwear with
funny patterns that the child chooses themselves. It can be fun exchanging the nappy for real underwear.
24. If you get irritated and feel that you cannot deal with the situation, or that the training is leading nowhere – turn to friends, your paediatrician or your child’s nursery and ask for advice. Do not turn the potty training into a power-war!
Carola is the Director and Principal of Little Gems Montessori Nursery in Nicosia and Larnaca. With over 20 years of experience in teaching, school management and child development, she is well-versed in potty training discussions and processes. If you're curious about how we approach this at our settings, get in touch on 999 50070 or firstname.lastname@example.org